Spokane-based Washington Trust Bank is completing two major remodels and constructing a replacement bank branch here that will highlight the bank’s ongoing financial-concierge initiative.
Washington Trust is investing nearly $2 million on the projects, not counting new technology and the bankwide program in which it’s cross-training bank employees as full-service financial concierges.
The projects include a $1.6 million Manito branch replacement, at 3103 S. Grand Blvd.; a $250,000 remodel at the Sullivan branch, at 407 N. Sullivan Road; and a $230,000 remodel at the Lincoln Heights branch, at 2415 E. 29th, building permit records show.
The first phase of the Sullivan branch remodel was completed recently and features the Spokane-area debut of the open-format concierge stations, which replace teller stands and customer lines, says Jim Branson, Washington Trust’s senior vice president of retail banking.
“We took almost two years and put all of our employees through a complete universal-banker training program so that everybody at each branch can help anybody who walks through the door,” Branson says.
Washington Trust earlier had said it’s rolling out the financial-concierge concept throughout its three-state network as part of a three-year to five-year branch evolution plan.
Financial concierges have a higher level of financial understanding and education, enabling them to handle bank services ranging from taking deposits to offering home-loan advice, Branson says.
The remodels and the replacement branch include new technologies and branch enhancements that complement the training, he says.
Branson says the financial-concierge concept has been well-received where it’s been tested at branches in Pullman and Sandpoint.
Tami Ferguson, Washington Trust’s vice president and retail group manager, says the barrier-free concierge stations with pivoting touch screens enable customers to view entire transactions.
“Customers can be side by side and see what employees are doing. We welcome it, and people gravitate over, because they’re curious,” Ferguson says.
The new concierge stations have secure cash recyclers instead of cash drawers.
Cash recyclers—waist-high machines about half the size of a stand-alone ATM—automatically count cash as they accept and dispense it for each transaction.
“The branch employee doesn’t have to count it anymore,” Ferguson says. “The recycler takes money in and kicks it back out. It’s recycling the same money.”
Because the machine tracks cash coming in and out, Branson says employees won’t have to spend time worrying about whether the cash balances.
“They can spend more time talking with the customer,” he says. “We’re hoping our employees are going to have deeper conversations.”
The second phase of the Sullivan branch remodel will include 1,000 square feet of space on the west end of the 4,400-square-foot building that can be divided into three meeting and presentation areas.
One meeting area centers around a couple of small café-style tables, and another meeting space includes a midsized raised table where electronic devices can connect to a large-screen display.
A glass wall will separate the larger conference-room-style meeting space.
The bank also will use the meeting spaces to provide financial education courses and workshops that will be open to the community.
The second phase of the Sullivan remodel is scheduled to be completed by the end of the month.
Washington Trust’s Lincoln Heights branch introduced the barrier-free concierge concept earlier this month following the completion of the remodel project there.
The Lincoln Heights branch has an open interior similar to the Sullivan branch, although it’s smaller, at 3,000 square feet.
Baker Construction & Development Inc., of Spokane, was the contractor on that project.
The new bank branch on the South Hill also is being built around the concierge concept. It will replace the nearby Manito branch, which is north of there, at 611 E. 31st. The existing branch will demolished when the new branch building is completed.
Associated Construction Inc., of Spokane, is the contractor on the project, which will include construction of a 3,000-square-foot, single-story building with two drive-thru lanes.
The site plan for the project shows a future restaurant pad site at the northeast corner of 32nd Avenue and Grand Boulevard, just south of the new branch building, although Washington Trust hasn’t scheduled a construction date yet for that part of the development.
Wolfe Architectural Group, of Spokane, designed all three projects.
Washington Trust has 43 branches in Washington, Idaho, and Oregon.
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